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The Rules of Attraction Review

By Shawn McKenzie 10/14/2002

The Beek has to get off the Creek.  The Beek Has To Get Off The Creek!  THE BEEK HAS TO GET OFF THE CREEK!  Why the rant?  It’s because I have discovered that James Van Der Beek can actually act!  Director Roger Avary took a chance on a cheesy WB star on his new movie, The Rules of Attraction, and it paid off.  The Beek is intense in this one!


The Rules of Attraction is based on a novel by Brett Easton Ellis about a group of kids going to Camden College in the 1980’s (though I think it takes place in the 1990’s because it references web sites and the music group the Counting Crows) with some weird social activities.  Sean Bateman (Van Der Beek), younger brother of Patrick Bateman (the main character in the 2000 movie American Psycho, also based on a novel by Ellis), is a college kid who is trying to scrape through financially by pushing drugs for Rupert (Clifton Collins, Jr.)  His clients include Marc (Fred Savage), a junkie student who injects heroin between his toes and doesn’t keep a clock, and Mitchell (Thomas Ian Nicholas), a student who just does drugs recreationally, but gets caught up in some trouble with Rupert.  Paul Denton (Ian Somerhalder) and Lauren Hynde (Shannyn Sossamon) are students who used to date each other, but have since gone their separate ways.  Paul is now gay, and is interested in Sean, although Sean has no interest in him (Paul got the wrong idea about Sean and thought Sean had a mutual sexual attraction with him.)  Lauren also likes Sean, but she hasn’t pursued her attraction to Sean because she wants to lose her virginity to Victor (Kip Pardue), but he's traveling abroad in Europe.  She decides that she can’t stand being celibate any longer and tells her dorm roommate, Lara (Jessica Biel), that she wants Sean as a replacement for Victor.  She doesn’t care that he is a drug dealer.  Sean is interested in Lauren after receiving various anonymous love letters that he eventually presumes are from her.  Sean and Lauren had first met in a class they were taking together taught by Lance Lawson (Eric Stoltz), a professor carrying on an inappropriate sexual relationship with Lauren.  The film jumps around and reverses on itself while watch as the three main characters (Sean, Lauren, and Paul) deal with their love triangle.  Surprisingly, there is no time to witness an actual class going on, or any homework being done!  The film starts and ends at the “End of the World Party,” and in between we witness the “Pre-Saturday-Night-Party Party” and the “Dressed-To-Get-Screwed Party.”  I don’t remember college being this much fun…


As I said before, Van Der Beek is intense in this movie.  When you watch it, you will not see “Dawson’s Creek’s” Dawson Leery.  It is more like Christian Bale’s Patrick Bateman in American Psycho (I wonder if he watched that movie for inspiration?)  I thought it was funny that the most annoying character on “Dawson’s Creek” was the title character, but this movie will make you forgive him and hope he gets off that show soon so he can make more movies like this one.


All of the other performances are great in this movie.  There is a memorable scene with Richard “Dick” Jared (Russell Sams), who I’m not sure how he is related to Paul, but they have a dinner with their mothers, Mrs. Eve Denton (Faye Dunaway) and Mrs. Mimi Jared (Swoosie Kurtz.)  The way Dick was acting in the scene reminded me of John Belushi in the restaurant scene in The Blues Brothers.  Another memorable scene is one involving Victor’s European trip.  His whole trip is wrapped up in about two minutes in a sped up scene that was funny and informative (at least as to what happened to Victor in Europe without having to go into long detail.)


The only problem with the movie is that there really doesn’t seem to be a story here.  Usually I hate that when movies are just a random series of events, but it is done so creatively here that I can forgive it.


Check out The Rules of Attraction for yourself.  It is a little weird and frequently makes no sense, but you will get such a kick out of Dawson and company that you won’t care.

Get the Brett Easton Ellis novel that the movie is based on:

Get the original soundtrack featuring classics from artists like the Starland Vocal Band, Harry Nilsson, the Cure, Yaz, Erasure, Donovan, Blondie, and more:

Buy these items at

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Catch this movie at the theater if you can...

Wait until it comes out on video...

Wait until it plays on HBO, Showtime, Starz, etc...

Demand your money back, even if you saw it for free!

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